Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Here We Have Idaho

Something about Idaho recharges my spirit, especially the smells--the smell of rain on freshly cut alfalfa (and even the smell of dairies and horse pastures).

After spending the last week back home (I still call Idaho that, even though I've lived in AZ much longer now), I figured out what some of that something is. It's the people.

Farm people

Rural people

Salt-of-the-earth people

Sensible people

God-fearing people

Patriotic people

Hardworking people

Humble people

Kind people

Good people

Idaho folks as a general rule (like most of the country between the coasts) don't have time to worry about rainbows and statues and what their underlying meanings may be. They're too busy working to pay the bills. They're busy taking care of livestock or their neighbor's sick wife. They're busy picking fresh tomatoes and green beans from their gardens and canning them quick before the first heavy frost comes. They're busy checking maps and forecasts and camp equipment for the big hunts in October.

They're busy living.

They are also sick of city people telling them how to spend their money or their time or how to best utilize their wilderness or how many guns they can own. They are tired of city people legislating change to their lives. City people rarely share rural values like these: Hard work outside or inside is what brings satisfaction, and that hard work often doesn't punch a clock. Family (whether blood or not) is what brings joy. Love of God and country is what brings meaning.

They still salute the flag and tear up when they hear "The Star Spangled Banner." They fly flags from their trucks and from their gutters--and not just on national holidays. They carry guns in the backs of their trucks and on their hips--and not to make a political statement, but because they may need it sometime. They still pray in public--and no one rebukes them.

Ironically, because of how hard life in rural communities can be, these hardworking people have more reasons than most to be bitter. Yet they retain their optimism and conviction that America is the greatest place on earth.

These are the people who voted for Trump in large percentages--for someone who espouses American values and doesn't play by the Washington rules they hate.

And while I may have drifted over a thousand miles from them geographically (and hundreds of miles politically, in some cases), a small portion of my heart always opens again in Idaho, whispering, "Welcome home."

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